From factory floor to Sustainability Director: How WorkforClimate Academy graduate Bernie got his dream job

WorkforClimate Academy graduate Bernie Wiley started his career in logistics, packing orders on the warehouse floor. Last month he was made Sustainability Director at Australian toilet paper juggernaut, Who Gives A Crap. Here’s how he made the switch.

James Shackell
August 23, 2023
3 min read

Bernie Wiley’s sustainability journey didn’t start where you might expect. In fact, growing up, he didn’t believe climate change was even real.

“I think it all goes back to my teenage years,” he says. “I was brought up in a pretty conservative family. When I first became aware of the greenhouse effect in school, I didn’t really believe it.”

It’s a long way from teenage climate sceptic to Sustainability Director at Australian-based toilet paper company Who Gives A Crap. But after travelling in his 20s, Bernie quickly realised that, yes, climate change was a thing, and yes, he wanted to help. 

“I spent five years travelling all over the place, and it really opened my eyes up to other people's perspectives. That was game changing for me.”

On returning to Australia, Bernie “fell into” logistics and supply chain management, helping companies manage their distribution, order processing and warehouse management before moving into operations management. It was rewarding work – improving efficiencies and minimising emissions as much as possible – but about five years ago Bernie decided to make a change. 

He started reaching out to companies doing interesting things in the sustainability space. Toilet paper startup Who Gives A Crap was top of the list. Working on the logistics side of the business, Bernie quickly became interested in climate-based initiatives. How could the company shrink their supply chain emissions? Was there a better way of moving toilet paper around the country? 

“We were looking at different ways that we could move goods and reduce our impact,” he says. “It’s a big focus for the company. And one of the ideas we came across was using our own dedicated electric vehicles.”

By the time Who Gives A Crap’s first EVs started making deliveries in 2023, Bernie had already completed the WorkforClimate Academy course. He knew now that he wanted to work in sustainability full-time, using the skills and experience he’d picked up in logistics. And the course was exactly what he needed to pitch the change to management. 

"Everyone can be a climate advocate. You don't need to be qualified. You can do it through experience and learning."

“It was kind of a self-initiated learning project,” he says. “I did it in my own time. And it was incredible: I was able to then take that to management and say, ‘I've done this. I've seen these areas of opportunity. Here’s how I can help.’”

It took a couple of years to transition from operations management to full-time sustainability, but the journey was worth it. In July 2023, Bernie was officially named Who Gives A Crap’s new Sustainability Director. 

“One of the key things you learn from the Academy is that everyone can be a climate advocate. You don't need to be qualified. You can do it through experience and learning. Anyone in a company can help drive sustainability initiatives, no matter the size of the organisation.”

Armed with knowledge from the Academy, Bernie is already mapping out the next steps for Who Gives A Crap. The company now has a growing EV delivery fleet, and their Melbourne warehouse is powered by some (slightly risqué) solar panels.

Bernie says the WorkforClimate Academy was invaluable in making the transition to a full-time sustainability career. The emphasis on practical solutions helped him pitch the role change to management: he could now see where Who Gives A Crap could improve, and the steps they’d need to get there. It wasn’t just another theory course. 

“I loved it. Especially the discussions with other participants,” he says. “You get very insular in what you do, and being able to have those networks of people, to hear their challenges and talk about your own, it really broadens your thinking.” 

But the biggest change between logistics and sustainability? The mindset. Supply chain management is often about putting out fires (figuratively speaking). You’re often reacting to things that happen while trying to stay proactive and plan for the future. But Bernie says working in sustainability feels totally different. There’s a tremendous sense of “relief”. 

“Instead of dealing with day-to-day pressure, I get to work on projects that are going to make things better. That’s my job now. I get to ask: how can we do things better all the time?”

Want to upskill in sustainability and accelerate your company's decarbonisation efforts? Our self-paced, online WorkforClimate Academy can help turn your company into a climate champion while honing your influence and leadership skills.

Share Icon
Copy link

Subscribe today

Register your details to receive our weekly newsletter containing advice and strategies to help your company take climate action.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.